The LA Clippers have entered the chat.
According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Clippers are "exploring trade routes" to acquire Lonzo Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans before the trade deadline on March 25.
The Clippers, with a well-chronicled need for a playmaking upgrade, are exploring trade routes to acquiring New Orleans' Lonzo Ball before next Thursday's NBA trade deadline, league sources say.- Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 19, 2021
Let's look at what a potential trade might look like for both sides.
Why it would make sense for the Clippers: The Clippers could do with an additional point guard. Ball hasn't quite lived up to the expectations of being the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, but he's an excellent passer who has developed into a knockdown shooter. According to NBA.com, almost half (46.0 percent) of his field goal attempts this season have been catch-and-shoot 3s. He's made 41.2 percent of those opportunities, making him one of the league's better catch-and-shoot threats.
With his playmaking and outside shooting, Ball has the potential to fit alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George well offensively. He'd give the Clippers a boost on the other end of the court as well. Not only can he defend both guard positions, he's among the league leaders in deflections and steals this season.
For a team built around two of the league's best wings, it's easy to see why the Clippers would be interested in Ball.
Why it would make sense for the Pelicans: It depends on what the Pelicans would get in return. As Stein tweeted, the Clippers would likely need a third team to be involved because they are short on assets. Assuming the likes of Leonard, George, Serge Ibaka and Ivica Zubac are off the table, they simply don't have many players on their roster who the Pelicans would likely be interested in. To boot, they control only one of their first-round picks between now and 2027.
If the Clippers can't find a third team to get involved, a trade for Ball seems highly unlikely. It's why it's hard to know what to make of this rumour for the Pelicans for now.
Financial implications: Ball is on the books for $11.0 million this season, so it won't be too difficult for the Clippers or any other team to match his salary. (The Clippers can get there with Lou Williams and Patrick Patterson, for example). The kicker? Ball will be a restricted free agent in the offseason. The Clippers would have the option of matching any offer sheet he signs if they were to acquire him, but they would run the risk of a team offering him more than they're willing to spend.
One team reportedly on Ball's radar is the New York Knicks, who are projected to have the most cap space in the league in the offseason.
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